Town Mayor hits out over lack of light

PUBLISHED: 07:03 12 April 2007 | UPDATED: 10:17 31 May 2010

TOWN Mayor Hilary Shibata and county Cllr Rodney Bass have clashed over plans to switch off streetlights in Saffron Walden. The mayor voiced her concerns about the fear of crime rising when the pilot begins following an indecent assault in Maldon. This h

TOWN Mayor Hilary Shibata and county Cllr Rodney Bass have clashed over plans to switch off streetlights in Saffron Walden.

The mayor voiced her concerns about the fear of crime rising when the pilot begins following an indecent assault in Maldon. This happened shortly after the night-time switch-off of streetlights in residential areas.

But Cllr Bass, cabinet member for highways and transport, said the mayor should concern herself with matters in her own town.

A teenage girl was attacked at 1.30am last Saturday in Park Drive, an area which has been in darkness between midnight and 5am since February.

She suffered injuries which required overnight hospital treatment after the attack in Maldon, which police believe was carried out by a man between 25 and 30-years-old.

Mayor Shibata said: "I'm very worried about the health and safety of local residents and about the fear of crime.

"Attacks like that in Maldon are thankfully very rare but it's worrying and the fear of crime is very likely to rise when the lights are switched off in Saffron Walden.

"We are still at the stage of to-ing and fro-ing with the highways department, but Cllr Bass seems determined to switch off the majority of lights in residential areas."

The mayor said she feared a lack of provision for reversing the pilot, to be carried out across Uttlesford, if it was deemed unsuccessful.

"Another worrying factor is although this is meant to be a pilot, there doesn't seem to be any provision for turning the lights back on if the pilot is not successful," she said.

"I am very concerned about the plans and will be keeping an eye on other areas in the pilot scheme."

Cllr Bass said: "The mayor should concern herself with events in Saffron Walden, and not situations in Maldon.

"She should respect this is as a matter for the police and I have no comment to make on any individual cases."

But the mayor hit back, saying: "No man is an island. I think that we're looking at an area that's very similar and with a very similar policy. I will let Cllr Bass talk for himself."

An Essex Police spokesman would not comment on whether the street lights being off had led to the attack, but said the force would be putting forward any concerns when the pilot scheme is reviewed in six months.

Saffron Walden Town Council is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the plans, and expect Cllr Bass to attend a meeting with them a week later.

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